Do you have higher expectations of others than you do yourself? Think about it before you answer.   

When you hire someone to cut the grass or shovel your driveway and it isn't done well, do you walk outside to point out that they missed shoveling the walkway or left weeds in the flower bed? When you're in line at the grocery store and for whatever reason, the cashier is moving slowly, do you get upset? Do you look for a manager? Do you let out a loud sigh? Be honest now... 

What do you do when you're delayed on your work? Does someone run over to help get it done faster? Do you run over to help a teammate get their work done faster? No? But why isn't another cashier running over to help? It's different, Tom! Oh, is it?  

When you turn in a project and your boss red pens it and says you can do better, do you sigh? Let out profanity under your breath? Complain to a coworker at lunch? Too often white-collar workers get amnesia when judging service and hospitality workers, repair people, or my favorite, doctors' offices. How long were you waiting? Two hours!?  

Yet it's okay for your work to be delayed because you're going on vacation, or because your company is short on resources, you won't be able to start the project for three more weeks. Better yet, you had to catch the train to get home, so you'll send what's due first thing in the morning. Think about when the pharmacist closes at 9 PM and you show up at 9:10 PM begging for them to be open to give an Rx for your child. No one wants to hear, "My day is over; I'll work on it tomorrow." 

I'm not saying we should accept terrible service. We shouldn't. We should reduce a tip or not go again. We should let the doctor know the nurse was rude or you got lost in the process. People can't improve if they don't know.  

But when you are in your office job, accept the feedback, as well. Don't be defensive when your manager tells you that you came up short when a client complains. Own the mistake. Even if you don't see it. If they do there may be merit to their claim.  

When you find yourself delivering at 100 percent, ask yourself if you always have. When your work is flawless and always on time, ask yourself how you did it, and repeat it again and again. Because none of us are that good. 

Published on: Sep 30, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.